In 1983 I became convinced that I wanted to “mess around in theological education!” That was before my own graduate education that resulted in an M.T.S. and a Ph.D. I look back on these 27 years with some amazement. I have been blessed with wonderful jobs within United Methodism and indeed an opportunity to “mess around in theological education.” As I complete 10 years here at Drew, I am truly grateful! We have had 10 good years together. I am excited to leave this place in the hands of a capable faculty, staff and that new dean yet to be announced!
In 1983 I believed that the world needed more and better educated religious leadership—I still believe it. It is a challenge to “be church” in this age. Individuals called to serve through ordination and church assignment are faced with complexity much different than in 1867 as Drew started. But each fall and spring when our new students sign the matriculation book—the same book that the first students at Drew signed—I am aware that as much as things have changed, some things are still the same. Churches and communities still need healthy and whole leaders who are steeped in the tradition, aware of the realities of their environment and who care deeply about the souls of others.
We have changed, though! We are very diverse as a faculty and a student body. We have a growing number of students who seek a theological degree to better prepare them for a wide variety of undertakings in the community. We live in a time of religious pluralism that challenges us in all communities and we recognize the need to understand the world religions but also to have the skill to organize and to deal with the conflict that seems inevitable.
So while theological education needs to stay the same, it also needs to always be changing and asking new questions. Drew is positioned to do that. As much as it should be responsive to the church and its institutions, it also needs to be pushing forward with research and experimentation that is challenging the church. We have a responsibility in each age to translate the sacred stories and the basic realities of life into the language and experience of that new age. Encourage Drew to be that place where new songs are sung and old stories take on a new and more complex meaning! The world needs Drew! I will be watching from a warmer
Maxine Clarke Beach